Democratic Experiments: Problematizing Nanotechnology and Democracy in Europe and the United States

Democratic Experiments: Problematizing Nanotechnology and Democracy in Europe and the United States

by Brice Laurent

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Overview

An examination of nanotechnology as a lens through which to study contemporary democracy in both theory and practice.

In Democratic Experiments, Brice Laurent discusses the challenges that emerging technologies create for democracy today. He focuses on nanotechnology and its attendant problems, proposing nanotechnology as a lens through which to understand contemporary democracy in both theory and practice. Arguing that democracy is at stake where nanotechnology is defined as a problem, Laurent examines the sites where nanotechnology is discussed and debated by scientists, policymakers, and citizens. It is at these sites where the joint production of nanotechnology and the democratic order can be observed.

Focusing on the United States, France, and Europe, and various international organizations, Laurent analyzes representations of nanotechnology in science museums, collective discussions in participatory settings, the making of categories such as “nanomaterials” or responsible innovation” in standardization and regulatory arenas, and initiatives undertaken by social movements. He contrasts American debates, in which the concern for public objectivity is central, with the French “state experiment,” the European goal of harmonization, and the international concern with a global market. In France, public debate proceeded in response to public protest and encountered a radical critique of technological development; the United States experimented with an innovative approach to technology assessment. The European regulatory approach results in lengthy debates over political integration; the United States relies on the adversarial functioning of federal agencies. Because nanotechnology is a domain where concerns over anticipation and participation are pervasive, Laurent argues, nanotechnology—and science and technology studies more generally—provides a relevant focus for a renewed analysis of democracy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262035767
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 05/05/2017
Series: Inside Technology
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Brice Laurent is a Researcher at Mines ParisTech, Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Prologue xi

1 Problematizing Nanotechnology, Problematizing Democracy 1

Representing 33

2 Representing Nanotechnology and Its Publics in the Science Museum 35

3 Replicating and Standardizing Technologies of Democracy 63

Governing 91

4 Making Regulatory Categories 93

5 Making Responsible Futures 121

Engaging 149

6 Mobilizing against, Mobilizing within Nanotechnology 151

7 Democratizing Nanotechnology? 179

Conclusion 205

Notes 211

References 235

Index 257

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Brice Laurent not only provides us with an outstanding study of the politics of technoscience; he shows how and why the case of nanotechnology has lessons for all those concerned with reinventing the practice and constitution of democracy today.

Andrew Barry , Chair of Human Geography, University College London; author of Material Politics: Disputes Along the Pipeline

Endorsement

Brice Laurent not only provides us with an outstanding study of the politics of technoscience; he shows how and why the case of nanotechnology has lessons for all those concerned with reinventing the practice and constitution of democracy today.

Andrew Barry, Chair of Human Geography, University College London; author of Material Politics: Disputes Along the Pipeline

Andrew Barry

Brice Laurent not only provides us with an outstanding study of the politics of technoscience; he shows how and why the case of nanotechnology has lessons for all those concerned with reinventing the practice and constitution of democracy today.

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